Nima : Fans of traditional; heavy metal can immediately skip this review, because this is not the new album by the German metallers The Claymore. Here we're dealing with a Bulgarian band that debut on 'Prolonged Active Antagonism'. This band has also little to do with traditional heavy metal and delivers atmospheric, symphonic black metal the way it was played in the second half of the nineties. But I'm not talking about clean and polished sound Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Old Man's Child possessed. Thanks to the dominant keyboards, the theatrical overtures and many changes in the tempo, Claymore's music reminds me more of the earlier work by Agathodaimon, Bal-Sagoth and a bit of Diabolical Masquerade's 'Death's Design' album. However, there were the mentioned bands worked out their insane style in details and thanks to their excellent musicianship, exciting keyboards and fantastic vocals made left a huge impression, Claymore make a clean breast for it. That's simply because their versatile style and compositions sound too inconsistent and have an average vocalist that sings without conviction or power. Especially the dominant keyboards lessen the band's quality. Not only do the keys sound too standard and uninspired, they're also way too much present in the mix. Here and there they do manage to come up with some good ideas and put a beautifully grim atmosphere, but unfortunately that is not enough to keep the band on the surface. I know that for a small band it can be hard to get a good sound and production, but I'm afraid that in these heavy times the critical listener is less "understanding. And not to forget that we simply can expect more from a band that has been around for a decade!

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There is an awful lot happening on Claymore's Prolonged Active Antagonism. I think the best way to describe this collection of blast beats, thrash riffs, galloping bass, keyboards and growling vocals is Technical Death Metal. What is clear is that these Bulgarian's know how to play their instruments. While the guitars sound pretty good, the keys are too over the top in a way that approaches shrill, even though they don't quite get there. They sound OK at first, but rapidly get annoying. The standout is bass player Velislav Danov, who lays down some nice galloping lines a la Iron Maiden on tracks like "Dying in a Dream" and "Centuries of Chaos." These songs are well written and happen to be the standouts on Prolonged Active Antagonism. Danov's vocals are of the "gargled with Drano" variety and he sounds a lot like Princess Leia when she posed as the bounty hunter in Return of the Jedi. The rest of Prolonged Active Antagonism is decent if you like your Dream Theater sung by the likes of Dimmu Borgir's Shagrath. It has some moments, but ultimately doesn't warrant many repeated listens.

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